Hollywood is bathing in the new craze sweeping through the movie industry; that if the cinematic universe. Initially spearheaded by Marvel Studios it seems that every Hollywood studio is planning a similar series of movies; Disney have both the Marvel cinematic universe and Lucasfilm's Star Wars Saga, 20th Century Fox have both the X-Men movies and the Alien series, Warner Bros. has the DC cinematic universe, Universal have their Monster movies, and Sony have plans for both a Spider-Man cinematic universe and a Ghostbusters. Two other movie trends currently sweeping across Hollywood are the revival of popular properties from the 1980's and the reboot/remake of once popular movie franchises.
One movie series that was immensely popular during its initial run is that of The Matrix trilogy created by siblings Andy and Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski. The Matrix was released in 1999 with its sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions being released in 2003. The Trilogy helped push the boundaries of visual special effects and action set pieces with many memorable, if not legendary scenes. Underneath the trilogies loud and exuberant exterior montage of impossible feats and cinematic trickery lay a deeply philosophical and multi-layered narrative of which fans still speculate upon to this day.
Since the success of The Matrix trilogy its directors and stars have moved on; The Wachowskis have attempted, with debatable success to recreate the magic of the aforementioned trilogy with movies such as Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending. Former star Keanu Reeves has enjoyed recent success in the revenge action flick John Wick (of which a sequel is currently filming in New York), while former co-star Lawrence Fishburne has enjoyed success on the small screen with CSI and Hannibal, and on the big screen as the new face for the Daily Planets chief editor Perry White in 2013's Man of Steel and next years eagerly anticipated Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
However, the ambiguous nature of the trilogies narrative, especially the possible revelations hidden within the final act of the third instalment has led many fans to believe that the Wachowski's may eventually return to the world they created in The Matrix with a whole new trilogy. Although narratively we can see this as a strong possibility, especially given the lacklustre reception the Wachowski's more recent projects, the main issue we see in the Matrix returning to the big screen is the action set pieces and visual effects. Having raised the bar so high with the original trilogy it is hard to imagine how the Wachowski's could exceed what has gone before, that said no one could have predicted the visual tour-de-force we experienced in the first trilogy. Ultimately, the answer lays with Andy and Lana Wachowski as to whether or not they will return and complete the story of the Matrix, we just hope their answer is a yes!
What follows is a fans, more specifically my interpretation of how the opening moments of a fourth Matrix movie could happen. Fans of The Matrix may agree or completely disagree with this understanding of key scenes from the previous movies...
After the usual opening credits imagine Zion, the subterranean city of the future in which the last remnants of the human race exist. A voice over from Morpheus (Fishburne) sets the scene and updates fans – Since Revolutions the humans and machines have co-existed in a tentative peace with each side actively avoiding the other rather than risk potential conflict. Morpheus' voice over continues to inform us that he and Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) have rekindled their romance and that Morpheus is now charged with the security of Zion, a position formerly held by Lock whom lost his life against the machines before the peace began. Morpheus concludes his voice over by informing the audience that Zion is at breaking point, barely able to manage and house the ever increasing numbers of newcomers that have been liberated from the Matrix since the peace began.
Imagine Morpheus commanding entering his office after struggling through a new influx of liberated newcomers. Not an instant passes from him sitting his chair when he is called by the Control, informing him of a unrecognised ship approaching Zion. Morpheus brings up the iconic cascading green code on a monitor in front of him before asking Control to identify the ship. Initially Control struggle to identify the vessel as it draws ever closer towards Zion forcing Morpheus to order the cities Gate defenses to be activated. At the last possible moment Control relates to Morpheus that they have identified the ship – its the Nebuchadnezzar.
Perplexed Morpheus orders the gate defenses to stand down and that the Nebuchadnezzar be granted entry into Zion and forwarded to landing pad two. As Control confirm the orders Morpheus leaves his office, negotiates past the crowd of newcomers outside and heads to the landing pad, gesturing a team of security staff to follow him. In front of him Morpheus sees the Nebuchadnezzar, looking as good as new as it slowly descends onto the landing pad, settling heavily against the concrete and metal.
Standing firm Morpheus and his team of security staff, their weapons raised wait anxiously as the landing bay door of the Nebuchadnezzar lowers and a figure descends the ramp. The security staff look anxious and ready for Morpeheus' orders but the latter's face is almost white with shock and disbelief. As the camera pans round the pilot of the Nebuchadnezzar is revealed to be Neo (Reeves), alive and unharmed. Looking Morpheus in the eye Neo tentatively smiles, relating without words Trinity's fate.
Confused? It is my belief that when attacked by Bane in the third movie, the illusion placed before Neo and all in Zion is revealed to Neo when he sees Agent Smith in Bane's place as yellow code (pictured above). Neo again sees this code upon entering the Machine City. This and Neo's ability to influence the machines while in the real world suggests the possibility that the real world is but another Matrix, or more correctly another level to the Matrix, created for those unwilling or unable to accept the reality of the initial Matrix. Having Neo return to Zion unharmed would be the first clue to this brain-bending proposition, but having Neo perform his Matrix abilities in the “real world”, such as stopping bullets in mid air would start the new trilogy down a much deeper rabbit hole than the first trilogy; for if the real world is not real, what is the real world, if in fact there is one at all.